Bureaucratic Rules No Help for Schools

Private charter schools in Ohio ought to have to comply with the same accountability standards applied to public schools. We were making that argument long before state officials adopted the philosophy.

Charter schools supported by tax dollars were allowed to operate with little fiscal or academic quality requirements for too long. Now, some are balking at requirements such as proving students in online programs are signed on to learning websites for specified amounts of time each week.

Too bad. State officials agreed several years ago to subsidize some private schools in order to provide good-quality options for students and parents — not to enrich a few charter operators.

Public school teachers and administrators complain frequently that they could do a better job with children if they did not have to spend time and money complying with a dizzying array of state and federal requirements.

They have a point. Monitoring academic quality through measures such as student attendance and performance on standardized tests certainly is a good idea. But forcing educators to jump through hoops that have little or nothing to do with what should be public schools’ top priority, teaching children, is absurd.

Some charter operators say state officials are leveling the playing field in entirely the wrong way — by making private schools jump through hoops that have nothing to do with education.

One example is a new requirement that charter schools must display the state motto — “With God, all things are possible” — every day. A good idea? Yes. But what on earth does it have to do with academic excellence?